Cuban Buses

By Nike

HAVANA TIMES – The guagua is the form of transport most Cubans use to travel. It is called a bus in other countries. There are diesel, gasoline and even electric buses in my country at the moment, but they still aren’t enough for the capital, where so many people live. Plus, if things are really bad in the capital, just imagine what the situation is in the provinces; almost all of Cuba has moved to Havana.

Getting on a bus is like going into an underground of horrible and ugly experiences, people are so annoyed by everyday life that they take it out on each other.

When the bus reaches the stop, everybody runs to it because they want to be the first ones to get on, and there’s pretty much no more space left on the guagua when it comes. People are desperate because they don’t want to get left behind, the next bus might take an hour or two to come. When people get to the door, they begin to abuse each other, men use their brute force and push women as if a woman didn’t give birth to them or they didn’t have daughters, and if you say anything then they offend you with words.

The fare collector asks for money for the fare and tells you to get on using the doors at the back, but when you get there, people give you an evil look, because there isn’t even enough space for themselves. This whole crowd of people hate each other inside the hell that is a Cuban guagua.

The driver wants to shut the door and, because there isn’t space for one more soul, the fare collector pushes everyone with a great deal of cheek and disrespect. Incredibly, nobody complains about this abuse while the doors are still able to close and you’re stuck in there without an inch to move, I say move… but you can’t even breathe…

There are some seats allocated for pregnant women and young children on buses. If you’re sitting in one of these seats, you have to get up and give them the seat. But there are people who pretend they’re busy doing something so they don’t have to get up, and when a pregnant woman or a woman carrying a baby gets on they begin to shout: The seat for the muddied!  In a rebellious and mean way.

Anything can happen on the bus, from verbal and physical assault, stabbings, sexual assault, theft, there are so many abuses.

I have friends who have suffered a violent experience on this brutal and savage form of transport, and they are so traumatized that they lock themselves up at home and have even lost their jobs, as they saw their lives flash before their eyes on a guagua.

Last Saturday, I was on a P11, the bus that travels the Alamar to Vedado route; just imagine with all of the people who live in Alamar and have no other transport options available to travel besides this bus. It was absolutely full when it was traveling down Reina Street, in Parque del Curita, one of the lights on the ceiling began to spark.

A man had the great idea to shout: FIRE! Everyone began to bang against the doors, screaming and shouting. The driver couldn’t open the doors because he was at a traffic light, and this is prohibited. People were desperate and carried on pushing, until the driver reached a block and stopped. He finally opened the doors, and the guagua was left empty… it was just a short-circuit of one of the light fixtures; there had never been a fire.

From the crowd that got off terrified, you could hear a woman shouting “my cellphonnnne, it’s been stolen!”

Read more from Nike’s diary here.



Nike

I was born in Havana, Cuba. All my life I have had the sea as a landscape. I like being close to it, feeling its breeze, its smell, as well as swimming and enjoying the wonders it gives us. Thanks to the manual skill that I inherited from my parents, I have been able to live off crafts. I work primarily papier-mâché, making puppets for children. I write for Havana Times for the possibility of sharing with the world the life of my country and my people.

Nike has 51 posts and counting. See all posts by Nike